Rep. Wehrli Updates Constituents on Third Special Session Day

While we all were hoping that the General Assembly would be able to complete its work on Friday, it was announced in the early afternoon that we would be in session again on Saturday. Here is a summary of Friday’s activity in Springfield:

Child Care Centers to Reopen on May 29
Before we started with floor debates, we received great news for child care providers. These businesses, originally listed for reopening in Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan, can now open on May 29 when all four regions of the state move to Phase 3. On May 18, I joined 28 House Republicans in sending a letter to Governor Pritzker, urging him to do this. With the Governor’s announcement, all 5,500 of Illinois’ child care centers that were not deemed as “essential” will be back in business on May 29.

The reopening of child care facilities does come with some protective measures, though. From May 29 through June 26, centers will be limited to 10 children per classroom, which reflects approximately 70% of pre-pandemic capacity. I’m glad the Governor recognized the importance of childcare as people return to work in higher numbers, and am pleased to know that more people will now be able to return to work on May 29, whether they are child care providers, or parents who require child care so they can return to their own jobs.

HJR 123 Blocked by Democrats
Increasing taxes on our small businesses is the last thing we should be doing right now. This week members of the House Republican caucus tried to push a resolution to remove the graduated income tax question from the November ballot, but our legislation, HJR 123 was denied a hearing and vote.

We need to provide a framework that allows our businesses to get up and running again so they can bring their employees back. But rather than giving business owners time to recover from the financial devastation they have endured due to COVID-19, Democrats plowed ahead with plans to heap a new tax increase on them.

As you may recall, through a party-line vote last year, Democrats voted to place a referendum question on the 2020 November ballot that would change Illinois’ income tax system from a flat tax to a graduated tax structure. The 100,000 small businesses that file as “pass-through” entities would see tax hikes of up to 47% under the proposed tax rates approved by Democrats last year. Additionally, C-Corps would face an initial 10% tax increase. If approved and implemented, corporate income taxes, already among the highest in the nation, would increase to a point where Illinois businesses pay the highest income taxes in the United States.

House Passes Six Bills
The House passed a total of six bills on Friday. They include:

  • SB 2099: Allows the State of Illinois to borrow up to $5.8 billion from the Federal Reserve to offset state revenue losses. In theory, Democrats said the money would be paid back largely from new federal aid they think will be coming to Illinois sometime soon. The 71-45 was along party lines, with two Democrats voting with Republicans.
  • HJR 124: Provides for the language that will be included in an informational pamphlet intended to educate voters on the graduated income tax Constitutional Amendment that will appear on the November 3 ballot. Because Republicans felt the “information” section included arguments in favor of the proposal, all Republicans voted against the bill.
  • SB 685: This is a property tax relief package that allows some property tax exemptions to automatically renew without taxpayers having to reapply for them. The bill passed unanimously in both chambers.

We return at 10:00 AM today to take votes on the budget, the budget implementation bill (BIMP), and to possibly take action on a Chicago casino bill. There will most likely be a few other clean-up bills and smaller bills we will consider. I’ll provide one more final update after we conclude our session business.

If you want to tune in for today’s proceedings, you can watch session activity at this link.